Today's Papers

IRA Withdrawal

The New York Times and Los Angeles Times agree that today’s top story is the IRA’s announcement that it would reinstate the cease-fire it had observed between August, 1994 and February, 1996. The Washington Post leads instead with six columns–the beginning of a multi-part series, with related articles inside–on the sad state of the Washington D.C. municipal government under Mayor Marion Barry. The piece runs under a banner headline: “From the Top, a City That Doesn’t Work.”

According to the NYT, the IRA cease-fire “announcement came after British Prime Minister Tony Blair had made several important concessions to [the IRA’s political arm] Sinn Fein to obtain the new cease-fire, notably saying that disarmament of [IRA and Protestant] paramilitaries would not have to start before the September talks.” And the paper reports that Sinn Fein’s leader, Gerry Adams, and British and Irish officials all said they hoped the cease-fire would mean Sinn Fein would be joining upcoming peace talks.

Neither the words “bomb” nor “murder” appear in the NYT account. (A concession to a large Irish-American readership?) By contrast, the LAT coverage is pretty explicit about what the IRA’s been up to lately. Its second paragraph states that the cease-fire means the IRA is “renouncing a terrorist campaign that has included bombings, the killings of two policemen and the disruption of public services in recent months.” Which is why it’s surprising that the LAT commits the unclarity of saying that the earlier cease-fire “ended without warning in February, 1996 with a London truck bomb that killed two people,” without mentioning that the explosion was attributed to the IRA.

The WP on the D.C. government is a tale of resources amassed but not delivered. The paper reveals that despite having the highest rates of new AIDS infection, tuberculosis, and infant mortality in the nation, the city’s Commission on Public Health fumbled spending $89 million in federal grant money targeted to just these areas. Additionally, in a city with “acres of abandoned and decrepit housing,” local officials failed to spend millions in federal block grant money intended to rehabilitate housing for the poor. Meanwhile, says the Post, the city chronically pays high rents to politically favored landlords. In fact, “The city’s Department of Housing and Community Development spends $1 million a year above the market rate to rent its office..”

The WP reports that despite revelations at last week’s Senate fundraising hearings, President Clinton and his senior foreign policy advisors still believe that China did not have a plan to influence U.S. elections illegally, and hence that “there is so far no cause for taking punitive steps against Beijing.”

The LAT reports on its front page that President Clinton announced yesterday that Los Angeles will be added to a computerized law enforcement tracking system that helps cops catch illegal gun traffickers by tracing guns sold to juveniles. In making the announcement, Clinton stated that “over the past decades, the number of gun murders by juveniles has skyrocketed 300 percent.” The WP reports that according to data already collected in that system, “More than half of 958 guns recovered at crime scenes in Washington [D.C.] in a recent period were in the hands of criminals younger than 25..”

Guess what’s one of the hottest shows on German cable television. According to a piece today in the NYT’s “Week in Review” section, it’s “Hogan’s Heroes.” Touchy plot lines have been softened with creative dubbing, and the camp staff’s stiff-armed salutes are never accompanied by “Heil Hitler.” Instead what they say is, “This is how high the cornflowers grow!” Meanwhile, “Seinfeld” was just canceled.